Emor

“Parsha and Purpose” – Emor 5780

“Parsha and Purpose” – Emor 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Priest and Prophet; Ritual and Relevance”

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Priest and Prophet; Ritual and Relevance

I am sharing with you, the priests and the prophets of the Jewish people, a very interesting idea. Yes, you – the priests and the prophets. 

We are all priests and prophets, and in this week’s Torah portion, we are introduced to the whole notion of what it means to be a priest – a kohen. 

The kohen has two requirements before he can serve in the Temple. First, he has to be a descendant from the seed of Aaron. All that counts is his lineage. Second, he must wear certain garments. He must wear bigdei kahuna – the priestly vestments; if he’s missing even one, he cannot serve in the Temple. 

And then there is the prophet: it doesn’t make a difference who his or her parents were. In fact, King David, the progenitor of the Messiah, the quintessential prophet who engages God and puts together Tehillim, is descended from the controversial convert Ruth, and from the illegitimate relationship between Yehuda and Tamar. 

And it doesn’t matter what the prophet is wearing. The prophet can be wearing formalwear, a tuxedo, or jeans and a t-shirt. If he or she has a relationship with God, that is all that counts. 

We need to assimilate both of these paradigms of leadership into our life and weltanschauung. On the one hand, we need to celebrate the message of the priest; the idea that there’s a certain sense of the eternality of the Jewish people when we are committed to the rituals. The kohen is the guardian of the rituals, and that’s why his holiness is based in externals: vestments and lineage.

When we are involved, when we sing the same songs that our grandparents sang at the Shabbat table, when we use the same kiddush cup that our grandfather or grandmother used, there’s a certain sense of the immortality of the Jewish people. 

However, if the only reason why we are celebrating our Judaism is based on the past – on the continuity of rituals – then Judaism becomes a dead symbol.Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the prophet to make sure that Judaism is imbued with relevance, and is connected to day-to-day reality. 

Therefore, the prophet sometimes admonishes the Kohen, saying, “Why does God need your sacrifices? Why does God need the everyday routines in the Temple, if they are not imbued with a passion and with spirituality?”

During this period, in which we have so much time for reflection and introspection, let’s think how we can take the mantles of the priest and the prophet and imbue them into our daily lives. How we can celebrate ritual and routine, but also recognizing that the ritual must be imbued with meaning and relevance. When we achieve that, we will truly be the mamlechet kohanim – the priestly nation.

Each and every one of us can be the priest and the prophet, if we’re committed to the ritual and if we ensure that it is imbued with a passion that inspires our daily life.

Shabbat Shalom.

Parshat Emor: People with Disabilities in the Holy Temple

Parashat Emor: People with Disabilities in the Holy Temple Rabbi Rafi Ostroff teaches Talmud at the Neveh Channah High School for Girls, in Memory of Anna Ehrman The first part of this week’s parasha concerns the laws of kehuna, priesthood. Arguably, this may be the main parasha to discuss the laws of the sanctity of …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Emor 5780

Shabbat Shalom: Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin  Efrat, Israel –  “And I shall be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel” (Lev. 22:32). The portion of Emor opens with a strange commandment to the kohanim-priests of Israel: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the priests children of Aaron, and …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Parshat Emor 5779

Shabbat Shalom: Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And the Lord said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them…” (Leviticus 21:1) What is the major task of a religious leader, a community rabbi or the dean of a day school? This is a question …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Emor 5778

In the Diaspora Parshat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel –  “Remove the blasphemer to the outside of the camp” (Lev 24:14) Our Biblical portion of Emor concludes with a strange and almost mythical tale of what appears to be the son of a mixed marriage (“the child of an Israelite woman and of …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Emor 5777

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

This week’s edition is dedicated in loving memory of Monica Dennis Goldberg  on the occasion of her 35th Yahrzeit  Parshat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of …” Since Judaism teaches that all Jews are responsible for each other, the hemorrhaging of the number …

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“Parsha to the Point” – Emor 5777

Parshat Emor (Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23) Rabbi David Stav  This week’s Torah portion, Emor, while covering a wide range of topics, relates to the prohibition of sacrificing blemished animals: “And if a man offers up a peace offering to the Lord…it shall be unblemished; it shall not have any defect in it” . Later on, the Torah …

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"Shabbat Shalom" – Emor 5776

Parshat Emor (Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23)  Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel– “And G-d spoke unto Moses saying: Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel which they sacrifice unto me so that they profane not My holy name, I am G-d!” The theme of …

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